Kate Grimes, the chief executive of Kingston Hospital NHS Trust, says its implementation of Cerner Millennium has “gone remarkably well” and provides a vital platform for the modernisation of services.

At the end of 2009, Kingston became the third NHS trust that Grimes has taken through a National Programme for IT in the NHS implementation, and the second trust she has taken through a Cerner Millennium implementation.

In an interview with E-Health Insider, she says the lessons learned have been invaluable; but she has no plans to do it again in a hurry. She also says the trust is already seeing the benefits of its experience.

“The big positive about Cerner is that it is one integrated system, its not just glued together by interfaces,” she told EHI editor Jon Hoeksma.

The biggest clinical gain so far is order communications, she adds. “We now have order communications running across the whole hospital, which has huge benefits for ordering and reporting test results.”

Kingston went for a big bang approach. More than 3,000 staff have been trained on the new system, which is being used in all areas of the hospital. The highest number of concurrent users has been clocked at 460.

The South West London trust was the first to go through the new BT/Cerner local implementation model, after a lengthy hiatus following high-profile problems with the Millennium implementations at Barts and the London and the Royal Free.

Success at the trust was essential for BT getting a new local service provider deal for London. Kingston’s go-live was followed by one at St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust, and a new deal was signed in March.

Grimes says her trust has had great support from the London Programme for IT, BT and Cerner. But she feels Millennium still needs further work to be more intuitive and forgiving of mistakes.

Kingston also ran into problems with data migration, resulting in patients showing up for clinic appointments the hospital had no record of. “Our patient experience was not what I’d want it to be,” she admits – despite the “heroic efforts” of staff to see everybody.

In spite of such teething problems, Grimes is convinced that the move was necessary to make sure that Kingston can deliver high quality care to patients. “We just couldn’t have carried on with the system we had.”

Read the full interview with Kate Grimes in the Opinion and Analysis section.